The Kpop world is mourning the loss of SHINee’s Jonghyun after the 27-year-old singer-songwriter made the devastating decision to take his own life on December 18th. Kim Jonghyun has played an important and prominent role in the rise and continuation of Korean Pop since his debut in SM Entertainment’s second-generation group SHINee in 2008.
From the opening bars of the group’s debut track ‘Replay’, Jonghyun’s talent was evident for all to see. His vocal strength, even as a teenager, looked set to rival the resident vocal power-houses of SM, and Jonghyun was only just getting started. Securing themselves the Newcomer Album of the Year award at the 23rd Golden Disk Awards, SHINee looked set to scale the heights of stardom – and they didn’t disappoint.
SHINee’s second album, ‘Lucifer’, saw the group win the first in a succession of Best Dance Performance Awards at the Mnet Asian Music Awards.
Later in the year, Jonghyun joined the first incarnation of SM’s project group S.M. The Ballad, alongside Jay of TRAX, Super Junior’s Kyuhyun, and trainee Jino (No longer with SM, now a member of Pentagon). Through this project, Jonghyun was allowed the freedom to push his vocal skills alongside similarly strong vocalists – cementing his position as a talent to be reckoned with in Kpop. Jonghyun would later be the only member to return to the project group in 2014.
SHINee became the first Kpop group to visit the UK in 2011, with a visit to Abbey Road Studios that drew a crowd of several hundred. Only months later they returned to play at the Leicester Square Odeon for the London Korean Festival, a performance that sold out in thirty minutes and crashed the Odeon server.
In 2013, following SHINee’s album ‘Everybody’ the band earned recognition as ‘Artist of the Year’ at the MelOn Music Awards, a title many thought was long overdue the group. SHINee and Jonghyun would continue to go from strength to strength musically.
Jonghyun’s journey as a solo artist began in 2015, with his debut album releasing to critical acclaim, critics praising his participation in the creation of the album and his collaborations outside of his company through work with artists such as Zion T and Wheesung.
Jonghyun’s list of accomplishments doesn’t just lie in singing. As a songwriter, Jonghyun is credited on an impressive seventeen SHINee tracks, as well as songs by bandmate Taemin, Lee Hi (the first official collaboration between artists from SM and YG), IU and EXO. He also penned forty of his own solo songs, this gaining him recognition by the Korea Times as one of the four Kpop musicians to have distinguished themselves from the mass-produced singers in the idol industry (alongside G-Dragon, Zico and Jinyoung).
In his musical career, as a member of a group and solo artist, Jonghyun won an impressive sixty-one awards (of eighty-six nominations), and achieved sixty-seven music show wins. He released a book, hosted a radio show, and became a noted follower of fashion and trendsetter with the help of SHINee stylist
Ha Sang Beg.
No matter his accomplishments it must be acknowledged that Jonghyun had clearly struggled immensely with his mental health. No matter how well someone may appear physically, how happy they may appear outwardly, things may not be ‘okay’. As we remember Jonghyun, whose life was so full it is hard to give him all the credit he deserves, it is important to remember others who share some of the darkness Jonghyun felt.
The help and support of family and friends are vital to improving mental health issues such as depression – don’t be afraid to ask questions, offer help and support, or simply listen.
For someone suffering from depression or other mental health issues do not be afraid to ask for help. Depression can creep up on you and silently eat away at you – but help is available 24/7 to all who require it.
In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. Samaritans helplines are open 24/7, including over the Christmas period. Other international suicide helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org
You can donate to Mental Health research and support through charities such as Mind.
This article was written for the UKP Magazine by Unitedkpop